Picture this: You’re at an event, standing by yourself in a corner, wishing anyone would walk over and start a conversation. Or, if that visual didn’t do anything for you, picture this instead: You’re new to an office and would give your first paycheck to be invited to grab coffee with the group who heads out at 3 PM every day.
Feeling excluded sucks. And while you can’t control how other people treat you, you can control how you make others feel. So when you’re in the power to be the inclusive person—by all means, be it! (And hey, it’s probably not too bad for your karma.)
So, how can you start today? Here are five instances in which you can easily include people.
1. When You See Someone Alone at a Networking Event
OK, this one seems easy, but if it were as simple as saying, “Hey, join us!” more people would do it. Sometimes it can be awkward to start a conversation with someone you don’t know, because well, the person could turn out to be awkward. Or worse, you try to initiate, and that person shuts you down. Turns out he’s waiting for his friend to arrive and isn’t looking for small talk.
Regardless of the potential outcome (and trust me, you can survive five minutes of cringe-worthy conversation), you should do the right thing and approach the person standing alone. You don’t even need to brainstorm ideas—the easiest place to start is simply to talk about the event you’re at. Good speaker? Say that. Awesome buffet? That’s also totally OK to bring up.
2 . When You Hear There’s a New Employee in the Office
You’d be surprised how far a mid-morning coffee or post-work happy hour invite can go for someone who’s brand new to the office. Learning a job’s responsibilities is already intimidating enough without having to worry about making friends—so having a friendly face propose grabbing lunch together can make a big difference.
Bonus: By taking time to do this one simple act of kindness, you’re setting yourself up in the office to be known as a leader who takes initiative. Or, double bonus, a mentor who’s willing to take people under her wing.
3. When You Get Assigned to Lead a Project and Pick Your Team
When you have something new on your plate and need a hand, it’s easy to turn to the same reliable people to help you out. However, taking on something new presents the opportunity to expand your circle and get some new creative minds involved.
So, the next time you find yourself in this situation, reach out to someone else. While you don’t have to turn over gigantic responsibilities to a colleague you haven’t worked with before, delegating a few small parts never hurts. And hey, this person could end up being your best collaborator ever.
4. When You’re on Social Media
It takes so little effort to be inclusive on social media—yet so few people make an effort to welcome participants who are new to the conversation. Say hi to new followers. Tag people you think would like to be involved in what you’re talking about. Share others’ content. By doing these very small things, you’re expanding your circle and making other people feel welcome in the conversation.
Also, on a selfish note, it probably won’t hurt your follower count to become known as someone who actively seeks out new voices and opinions to share.
5. When You Have the Chance to Introduce People
There are a million ways to be more inclusive by way of introductions. For example, if someone in your department needs help on a project, offer to set him or her up with someone he or she might not know from another team.
Or, if you want to take this out of the office setting, you can do the same thing when a friend asks for help re-designing her online portfolio or filling a position at her company. Take the time to go through your network and think about people beyond your usual recommendations. All it takes on your end is an email suggestion to make someone else feel valued and important.
By being more inclusive, you’re creating a more positive environment while also upping your street cred. What’s not to love?